Infant Size, Growth Linked to Later Obesity

Infants who are bigger, grow faster at risk of being overweight as adolescents, adults

FRIDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Infants who are large in size or exhibit faster growth early in life are more likely to be obese later on, according to a report published online Oct. 14 in the British Medical Journal.

Janis Baird, Ph.D., of the University of Southampton, U.K., and colleagues conducted a systematic review of 24 observational studies that included people born between 1927 and 1994.

Compared with non-obese children, the relative risk of later obesity was 1.35 - 9.38 in infants defined as obese or at the highest body mass index. The relative risk of obesity ranged from 1.17 to 5.70 in those with faster growth in early childhood compared with other children.

While the exact patterns of growth that influence obesity are not clearly understood, the researchers suggest that factors before or during infancy that determine infant size and growth may have an impact on the subsequent risk of obesity. "Recent studies in the U.S. and Finland have shown that patterns of growth during infancy may be associated with both childhood and adult obesity, suggesting the potential for intervention during infancy," the authors write.

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